Environmental Consulting & Engineering Services - from Concept to Reality

Case Studies

Bayonne Energy Center

Bayonne Energy Center Submarine Cable Installation

ESS provided full life cycle environmental consulting and engineering services for the Bayonne Energy Center Project (BEC). The Project involved the construction of a new energy efficient 512 MW electric generating facility on a brownfield site in Bayonne, New Jersey and installation of a new 6.5 mile, 345 kV AC submarine electric transmission cable system between Bayonne, New Jersey and the Gowanus Substation in Brooklyn, New York. The submarine cable is now the world’s longest 345 kV AC XLPE cable system, unique in that each cable within the system was extruded in one continuous length without factory joints. It is also one of the most deeply buried submarine cables, at 15 feet below the New Jersey – New York Harbor bottom. Once operation, BEC will provide New York City with a new, highly efficient and environmentally advanced source of power.

Strategy

ESS was initially retained to prepare a Desktop Routing Study to evaluate potential cable landfall locations, submarine cable route alternatives, and technical and regulatory constraints. The cable’s location in the very busy New Jersey/New York Harbor posed the challenge of developing a route that minimized cable length while avoiding adverse impacts to the numerous anchorages and Federal Channels in Upper New York Bay. ESS used its knowledge of submarine cable routing techniques and local navigation requirements to develop a route that could ultimately be approved by the local maritime community and regulatory agencies and allow the cable to coexist with the vessel navigation/anchoring and US Army Corps of Engineers maintenance dredging activities. The cable routing study was an important element of the information used by the developer, Pure Energy Resources, LLC (PER) and BEC to make decisions regarding the viability of the Project.

Once BEC made the decision to advance the Project, ESS developed regulatory strategies with PER and BEC’s legal counsel. Since the submarine cable would be located beneath the waters of both New Jersey and New York, and in resources subject to federal jurisdictions, an integrated regulatory strategy was required. This strategy inventoried all of the information and filing requirements for applications to New York, New Jersey, and the federal agencies, and identified common schedules and informational needs for the permit applications and regulatory reviews. ESS was then able to mobilize and manage one field program to collect all of the required engineering and environmental data, including marine surveys, water and sediment sampling, and lab analyses. As a result, BEC, with ESS support, was able to make near simultaneous submittals to each state and to the US Army Corps of Engineers, thereby reducing the time that would otherwise have been required absent this coordination of agency reviews.

Technical Studies

ESS led Project efforts for regulatory permitting, tidelands licensing, and coastal zone consistency certifications related to the submarine transmission cable system. This work entailed performing various environmental impact analyses, marine surveys, and technical studies to support regulatory submissions. Specialty subconsultants were retained and managed by ESS to model predicted concentrations and movements of sediment introduced into the water column during cable jetting and from mechanical dredging within temporary nearshore cofferdams. An Ecological Risk Assessment was also performed to assess potential impacts to organisms in Upper New York Bay/Gowanus Bay from sediments disturbed by Project construction activities.

Engineering & Design

ESS played a key role in the design of the BEC submarine cable route and landfall transitions. With the assistance of a marine structural subconsultant, RPMS Consulting Engineers, ESS managed the design of temporary cofferdams at each landfall. At the New York landfall, three free-standing temporary cofferdams were designed to support horizontal directional drilling and submarine cable landing activities. At the New Jersey landfall, one large cofferdam, which had to be integrated into an existing, deteriorated bulkhead, was designed to support cable landing activities.

ESS also designed a dredged trench for an approximately 1,900 foot long section of the cable route where route clearance activities and a jet plow trial indicated that geologic conditions would prevent the jet plow from achieving the required cable burial depth. To address this installation challenge, ESS designed a 74-foot wide, 8-foot deep trench that could accommodate the towing of the jet plow into and out of the trench. Approximately 57,000 cubic yards of material were dredged from the trench.

Permitting & Compliance

Stakeholder outreach, which was key to the success of the BEC Project, began very early in the Project’s life and continued through submarine cable installation. These stakeholder discussions were fundamental to designing the submarine cable route and landfall transitions as well as completing the permitting of the Project in a timely manner. ESS and the BEC Project Team conducted numerous meetings and discussions with state and federal regulatory agencies and stakeholder groups including:

  • City of Bayonne
  • International-Matex Tank Terminals
  • US Army Corps of Engineers New York District
  • US Coast Guard
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
  • New York City Department of Transportation
  • New York City Economic Development Corporation
  • New York and New Jersey Harbor Operations and Safety Committee
  • New York Department of Public Service and New York Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners

ESS worked with BEC to prepare and submit applications to the New York State Department of Public Service (Article VII), the US Army Corps of Engineers New York District (Sections 10/404), the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York Department of State, and the New York Office of General Services. ESS also provided technical and environmental evaluations, as well as project plans related to the submarine cable, for applications to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Land Use Regulation Program and Tidelands Program.

Inspection & Monitoring

As the Project prepared for construction, ESS worked closely with BEC Construction Management and its cable installation contractor to assess the results of route clearance operations, make adjustments to the final route, and verify calculations of the required length of cable to be manufactured. In addition, ESS prepared data sets and plans detailing the burial depths required by the Project’s permits for use by the cable installation contractor during installation.

ESS personnel served as the Independent Environmental Inspector during construction activities in New York as required by the Project’s Article VII Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need. ESS was responsible for real-time water quality and total suspended solids monitoring during cable jetting operations, as well as pre- and post-construction benthic community and sediment quality surveys.

ESS also provided real-time review of cable coordinates and depth data during installation to verify that the Project was achieving the required burial depth. For the 1,900 foot long section of dredged cable trench, this activity had to be closely coordinated with both the dredge and cable installation contractors to ensure that survey activities did not delay the cable installation schedule. Post-construction, ESS provided notifications and managed delivery of as-built plans and monitoring results as required by the various regulatory permits for the Project.

Outcome & Benefits

As a result of a successful project strategy and permitting plan, construction of the Project began in April 2010 and the submarine cable and upland cable installations were completed in October 2011. The BEC submarine cable was energized in December 2011. The BEC generating facility, which is one of the cleanest, most efficient energy facilities of its kind in the region, started commercial operation on June 1, 2012.